Americans Favor Workplace Benefits 4-to-1 over Extra Salary: AICPA

Greg Anton

When it comes to finding the perfect job, a newly published AICPA survey of 2,026 U.S. adults, among whom 1,115 were employed, suggests it’s about a lot more than the money. And with 29% considering switching jobs in the next year, employers need to be ready to show them the benefits.

Employed adults estimate, on average, their benefits represent 40% of their total compensation, according to the survey conducted online by The Harris Poll for the AICPA in April 2018. However, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, benefits actually average 31.7% of a total compensation package. Americans are actually overestimating the value of the benefits available to them. But they clearly see value in workplace perks – by a 4-to-1 margin, they would choose a job with benefits over an identical job that offered 30% more salary but no benefits.

“A robust benefits package is often a large chunk of total compensation, but it’s the employees’ job to make sure they’re taking advantage of it to improve their financial positions and quality of life,” said Greg Anton, chairman of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “Beyond the dollar value of having good benefits, employees gain peace of mind knowing that if they can take a vacation without losing a week’s pay or if they need to see a doctor, they won’t be responsible for the entire cost.”

Nearly 88% are confident they understood all the benefits available to them when they accepted their current job. Similarly, 86% are confident they have kept up-to-date with changes to those benefits, and 86% are also confident they know where to get information about how to use their benefits. Surprisingly though, only 28% are very confident they are using their benefits to their fullest potential.

When asked which three workplace benefits would help them reach their financial goals, more than half of Americans cited 401(k) match (56%) or health insurance (56%), while around a third cited paid time off (33%) or a pension (31%). Additionally, about 21% cited flexible working hours, and 15% cited working remotely.

As seen in generational breakdown below, Baby Boomers put a significantly higher priority on health insurance and having a 401(k) match than the younger generations. Notably, of all benefits listed, the desire to have a pension saw the largest discrepancy amongst generations. More than half of Baby Boomers (54%) prioritized including it in their top three, compared to only 16% of Millennials.

Millennials, now the largest generation in the workforce, put a higher priority than both GenX and Baby Boomers on benefits that are most commonly associated with work-life balance such as paid time off, flexible work hours and working remotely. Employers competing for this talent should consider this shifting scope of desired benefits if they want to attract the best employees.

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States on behalf of AICPA between April 24 and 26, 2018, among 2,026 adults aged 18 or older.